After everything that I had gone through up until this point, the shock of it all began to subside and denial crept in. I was in denial about what was happening, and somehow thought we still had a shot even though he moved out and we officially filed divorce paperwork. Although a divorce day was set, after a few months of distance and couples counseling, we decided to try to give it a final try. He continued to struggle with being the man he wanted to be, the man he told me he was, versus who he really was and his expectations of me. We began to “date” again. Unfortunately, it was all half-assed on his part and it felt like we were both were just going through the motions. We were both unhappy and it was palpable.
During the months of us trying to make it work, we were invited to one of my sisters’ birthday parties. He did not want to go and criticized me for wanting to attend. He had negative things to say about my sister, spoke negatively of our relationship, and tried to convince me not to attend, “If I don’t go, then you shouldn’t go. You shouldn’t be there without me.” By doing this, normally he could guilt me into staying in. But, because we had a few months of space, it didn’t affect me in quite the same way– after all, I wasn’t doing anything wrong by wanting to attend my sister’s birthday. It shouldn’t require his approval, and if he was really giving our relationship once last try, then he should attend, too.
I ended up attending the birthday celebration without him and had a fantastic time. There were lots of people there that I hadn’t seen in a while, and it felt good to reconnect with them. I felt different because I didn’t worry about getting in trouble when I got home; I was in the moment with my family and friends instead of being controlled and manipulated by his emotional abuse. The few months of space had given me some much-needed clarity.
Later that night, my (ex) husband’s cousin showed up to the party. He was a friendly and social guy, and friendly with my sister and family. My (ex) husband and him were more than cousins, they called each other brothers. I had grown closer to him more recently as he had just gotten married and we had all gone on vacation together as couples. I was very fond of his wife, and adored their newborn baby. I admired the love they had for one another, and had a lot of respect for them.
Unfortunately, my (ex) husband’s cousin drank way too much that night. I texted my (ex) husband explaining his cousin was drunk and asking for advice of what to do. He responding saying it was too late to be messaging him and to figure it out myself (clearly, he was still pissed off that I went to the party). So, it was up to me…instead of having him make the hour drive home, I suggested he stay over on my couch to sleep off the alcohol. He agreed that was probably the best idea. I set him up on the couch with a pillow and blanket, said goodnight, and retired to my bedroom. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt, turned off the light, and went to sleep.
I awoke about 30 minutes later to my bedroom light back on, my shirt off, and my cousin-in-law on top of me. I was still coming out of being asleep so it took me a few seconds to realize what was really happening and to push him off of me and off of the bed. I didn’t see my shirt, so I wrapped myself up in the blankets to cover myself up. I felt confused, exposed, and ashamed. How could this married man with a newborn, someone I considered like family, take advantage of me like that? How could he do that to his wife? His daughter? My (ex) husband? To me?
My eyes were still trying to focus on his face when I sat up still wrapped in blankets, looked at him, and said “What are you doing?” He was standing at the side of my bed still fully clothed.
“Come on,” he encouraged, sounding pissed off that I had stopped him.
“No. Go back on the couch and go back to sleep.” I didn’t know how to process what had just happened. I was confused and unsure. I knew he drank a lot and in that moment, was afraid he would kill himself if he drove home. For some fucked up reason, I was more worried about him than me (probably because that’s how my (ex) husband had reprogrammed my brain).
“Come on girl,” he said again forcefully.
“No, leave me alone.”
“I’m gonna go,” he said, sounding like a little kid who just had his toys taken away, like I should feel bad for him.
“Ok, bye” I replied. At this point, my brain was starting to realize what had happened. He needed to leave, he couldn’t stay here.
He sucked his teeth, “Fine, I’m gonna go.” It was as if he was looking for me to beg him to stay. This was wrong on so many levels. How could he have not seen that? Has he done something like this before?
“Ok, bye” I repeated myself, this time more forcefully. I began to feel scared, and I just wanted him out of my house. He sucked his teeth and walked out of the room. Once I heard the front door close, I unwrapped myself from all of the bed sheets, found my shirt on the floor and put it back on, and made my way over to the front door to lock it so he wouldn’t come back in. As I made my way over, I noticed the refrigerator door wide open as I passed by the kitchen, and noticed the pillow and blankets in the exact place I had left them on the couch. I locked the door and contemplated reaching out to my (ex) husband in that moment. All I could think was of his last message to me saying “Figure it out yourself.” I physically was okay, so I figured I’d give him the night and call him first thing in the morning.
I got up at early that morning and texted my (ex) husband to call me once he got up. He called me shortly after and I told him what had happened. In the days that passed, he blamed me for the entire thing and told me it was my fault. He said I should have never had another man in my home, regardless of whether or not he was living there, and that I never should have gone to my sister’s party without him. He told me that he could never forgive me and demanded I call the court and schedule the next available date for divorce. We were officially divorced 12 days later.
As I said in previous posts, it’s hard to imagine things getting worse, but they continually did. I devoted myself to him and toward pleasing him, and when his cousin sexually assaulted me, he blamed me and abandoned me – probably the two worst things you could do to a sexual assault victim. Thank goodness for the support of my family or I’m not sure how I would have managed. And then for me to be the one to have to call the court to schedule the date, it felt horrible – like I was being victimized again. I remember thinking thank goodness, we don’t have children. God forbid something like this were to ever happen to my daughter someday, the last thing I would want anyone to do would be to victim shame her. And that became the reason why I threw in the towel and stopped fighting for us…not for the love that I should have had for myself (because I had been beaten down by emotional abuse too much to care anymore), but for the enormous amount of love I have for my unborn hypothetical children. It was so much easier to see that I would never stand for anyone to treat them like that, and I should no longer stand for it myself.